Every federal fiscal year (October to September) the federal government makes available 140,000 visas for employment-based immigration. These include visas that allow employees’ families to accompany them as well. Because of the limited number of visas allowed by the federal government, companies and employers often have to compete with each other to get approved to hire a highly-skilled immigrant employee.

Going through the process blindly is a bad idea. With the help of a qualified, skilled immigration lawyer, a business can enjoy a far greater success probability than trying to navigate the visa process alone. The reason being is due to the fact that the application process for an employer is full of missteps and areas for easy mistakes. It’s also not an easy process working with just one federal agency.

First off, an employer has to obtain a labor certification approval from the U.S. Department of Labor. With the certification in hand, then the employer needs to apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be allowed to hire a worker in a particular labor category (for example, computer programming). This is done by filling out the Immigration Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140. The USCIS then reviews the application to determine which visa category the prospective worker to be hired will be put into. This can include:

  • E1 priority workers (extraordinary ability, outstanding education faculty, or multinational management and often includes L-1 Intracompany transfers).
  • E2 professional workers with advanced degrees or exceptional talent (often includes H-1B specialty workers. More information can be found here.)
  • E3 skilled and unskilled workers (frequently includes TN NAFTA professional workers)
  • E4 certain special immigrants (can include foreign students)

After USCIS approval, then the visa petition must go to the National Visa Center (NVC) for review. At this point the prospective employees immigration documents are also reviewed. The NVC will put the case file through an extensive documentation process that will not be complete until all the document categories are accounted for, including relevant fees paid. Only on completion is the employee-to-be then assigned to a visa interview at his country’s respective U.S. embassy or consulate. With final approval, the entry visa is then approved allowing the employee to work in the U.S.

As can be seen above, the visa approval process is complex and extensive. For these reasons a skilled immigration lawyer is necessary to navigate every step and office that needs to be interacted with. So if your business is considering hiring a foreign employee soon, set up an initial consultation with the Law Offices of Grace M. Esnardo. We can help your company complete the immigration employment process and avoid many mistakes common in applications.